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Former Cuomo aide: ‘he embraced me a little bit too tight, too long’

Karen Hinton was questioned by the New York Attorney General's investigators as part of their probe after she came forward earlier this year accusing Gov. Cuomo of touching her inappropriately in 2000. She served as an aide to him when he was the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Karen Hinton was questioned by the New York attorney general's investigators as part of their probe. She came forward earlier this year, accusing Governor Cuomo of touching her inappropriately in 2000. She served as an aide to him when he was the secretary of housing and urban development.

    And Karen Hinton joins me now.

    It's very good to have you with us.

    Ms. Hinton, tell us a little more about what happened exactly. It was around the year 2000. Remind us when it was, what happened.

  • Karen Hinton:

    The end of 2000, we had done a media event in Los Angeles.

    And after the event, he asked me to come up to his hotel room to talk about the day, what we would do the next day. And I agreed to come up and see him. I had been in hotel rooms with him before with other staff. There was no one there. The lights had been dammed.

    I was a little concerned about that. But I took a seat. And we did talk about the media event. And then the discussion became a bit more personal about marriages, mine and his. And I decided, OK, I really would like to leave.

    And I stood up, and he embraced me a little bit too tight, too long. And I felt that he was aroused, and I left the room. We never talked about it. And I never told anyone, except one of my best friends, who I called that night to tell her what had happened.

    But this was a long time ago. And I'm from an older generation of women. And I didn't really think that — if I told someone, I might lose my career, I would hurt my career. So I didn't.

    And praise to those 11 women who did.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you did speak with the investigators. You shared your story with them.

    They didn't include it as one of the complainants in this filing. But you said they did listen to you?

  • Karen Hinton:

    Oh, yes, they were very interested in talking about his pattern of behavior over time.

    And I have known Andrew Cuomo for a long time, 25 years. And this report describes him to a T. And I was shocked, but I wasn't shocked. And I think that the Assembly is right to go ahead and fast-forward their impeachment inquiries, because I think he probably won't resign, even though the president has called for him to resign.

    And I think the A.G.'s office, the investigators were very interested in that pattern over time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    When you say — when you say what's in this report describes him to a T., what do you mean by that?

  • Karen Hinton:

    Well, I think the flirting, the intimidation, the manipulation, the need to control, the need to scream and holler and get angry at people unnecessarily, that was the Andrew Cuomo that I know, you know, over these two decades.

    That was his — that is a pattern that he's always performed. And it's been concerning to me for a very long time. And I wish I had spoken out more about it. But it wasn't ever in this kind of context.

    And I'm glad that these 11 women did that, because I think they really empower other women to do it, not just in politics, but in a range of fields where women face social harassment, in the news media, in entertainment, but also you work at a grocery store, it happens. If you work in a doctor's office, it happens, a restaurant, a law firm, wherever.

    It happens because it's so pervasive.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    What role were you in when you — you said you observed him over several decades. Were you working in his office? Or were you in and out in a work capacity?

  • Karen Hinton:

    I was, of course, for a time in his office when I was his press secretary in Washington, D.C. And then, after that, I maintained a professional relationship, as well as a personal relationship, over time because I did marry someone who worked for him at HUD and then later worked for him in the governor's office.

    So I had opportunities to be around him and see him over time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Why do you think that more women — and you have just alluded to this about how difficult it is to come forward. But why do you think more women, more people who work for him haven't spoken out publicly in the year — over the intervening years?

  • Karen Hinton:

    I think it's really difficult.

    It's very hard to speak up. We have been basically programmed to shut up and be silent and for — women have over the years. And so I think it's hard to break that pattern. I think that the MeToo movement did a lot to help empower women. And so we need to keep that movement going.

    And what I really want to say is not just for women to speak out, but for men to act right. It is just not that hard to treat women with respect and as professionals. And that's all that these 11 women really want is to be treated with respect and professionally. And we don't need an attorney general to help a man do that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, it's an important…


  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is an important, certainly, set of developments today.

    And, Karen Hinton, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.

  • Karen Hinton:

    Thank you.

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